The full Austria album is available on Flickr for your viewing pleasure.
Our "home base" for the Europe 2015 trip was Vienna. This is where we landed from Vancouver (through London), caught our flight to Dubrovnik and also hopped on the train to Prague. This stop was also the one place where we got the insider's experience. Luckily for me, my cousin happens to live in Vienna and she graciously offered to host us for a few days. All in all, our itinerary worked out beautifully.
Know before you go
The official Austrian currency is the Euro, so expect to spend significantly more money. Us Canadians suffer quite a bit from the steep conversion rate and Austria is not necessarily a cheap destination. An average restaurant entree will cost you anywhere from 15 to 20 Euro. That being said, don't let this hold you back from visiting this gem in the Alps. Stock up on a little more spending money and get to exploring!
Wander through the Imperial grounds
Austria is in no shortage of palaces and there are plenty you can visit right within Vienna's city center. Amidst the busy shopping streets, you can stumble upon the Hofburg palace - the heart of the country's current political sphere and parliamentary happenings.
For a more intimate look at the court life, make your way to Schonbrunn - otherwise known as the summer palace - and tour the lavish rooms at your own pace with the help of an audio guide. There you'll learn all about the history of the Austrian Imperial Family, including Franz Joseph and the infamously miserable Elisabeth (Sisi).
If the high class art scene is more your thing, you may want to visit the Belvedere museum/palace. Aside from being the home of the world-famous painting "The Kiss" by Gustav Klimt, Belvedere also features incredible gardens where you can roam free.
Enjoy a decadent dessert in a classic European Cafe
Austria is a big coffee nation - and for good reason. How could you not want to drink coffee in a beautiful Viennese cafe? Stepping into one of these buildings is like taking a step back in time. You can't help but imagine yourself in the 18th century. For the full grandiose experience, check out Demel and Cafe Central. While you're there, be sure to try the Kaiserschmarrn - a shredded pancake served with fresh jelly and powdered sugar!
Do yourself a favour and try the Eiskaffee
This was so amazing that it deserved its own category. The Austrian version of ice coffee contains a dollop of ice cream topped off with whipped cream. Depending on the restaurant, you might even be served an eiskaffee with chocolate sprinkles, syrup or a wafer.
Remember: you have to pay for water so might as well get this - a drink and dessert in one.
Feast your heart out on wieners and schnitzel
Since we're on the topic of consumption, let's go over eats. Prepare yourself for protein in extreme doses. Practically every meal in Europe will consist of meat and potatoes (in one form or another) and Austria is no different. A classic veal or pork schnitzel is a must try but know that the meat will likely be larger than your plate. Try your luck at Figlmuller and be sure to bring an appetite.
If you need a break from fine dining, there is plenty of cheap street food to keep you satisfied. Wieners are sold at almost every street corner. You can request your wiener to be served on a plate with condiments or you can have your wiener shoved into a giant bun. Don't drop your wiener, that would be the wurst. Once you're done enjoying your wiener, wash it all down with some delicious Almdudler - the strange but delicious offspring of apple cider and ginger ale.
Take a scenic drive to beautiful Salzburg
The drive through the mountains was easily one of the highlights of Austria. Rolling green hills (like the ones from Sound of Music) will guide your way into town. Once in Salzburg, skip the Mozart House tourist trap unless you have a particular affinity for ancient tufts of hair and vintage bedpans and instead check out the castle fortress on the hill. If adventure is more your thing, head over to the (free) Red Bull museum where you can see branded aircrafts and various other vehicles on display. The museum also has an awesome sky bar. Sip fancy cocktails above the planes - what more could you ask for?
Fun fact: did you know Redbull was born in Salzburg? Me neither.
Take in the picturesque sights of Salzkammergut
Nestled in the Austrian Alps lies the idyllic town of Salzkammergut that doesn't fail to look calm even on the cloudiest of days. Sit down at one of the many homey restaurants, order a schnitzel and an eiskaffe and take in the stunning views.
A very special "Thank You" to Andra and Cristi for being our hosts and touring us around (while putting up with our craziness). You guys are awesome.
That’s it for now! Be sure to drop by next week for a recap of the Czech Republic.
In the meantime, check out #denisasadventures on Instagram for all the selfies and action shots.
The full Austria album is available on Flickr.
If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below or contact me directly.